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The Newton City Council will consider new parking rules when it meets Monday night that –if I understand them correctly  — would not allow you to park at the same meter, the same block or even the same city parking lot — twice in the same day.

So, for example, let’s say you parked in the Newton Center Langley parking lot one morning to have breakfast at Johnny’s Luncheonette.  Then later that afternoon, you return to Newton Center to take your kids to J.P. Licks. Under the new rules, you could be subject to a parking ticket if you parked in the Langley lot in the afternoon because the proposed rules say you can’t return to the same block or city lot on the same day.

Here’s another example:  Let’s say you’re visiting your elderly Aunt Sylvia who lives on a street in Auburndale that has a time restricted two-hour limit. Under the proposed new rules, after two hours you would need to move your vehicle “beyond the nearest intersection,” which I interpret to mean to a different block or street.

But not only that: Let’s say you went to run some errands for dear old Aunt Syl and bring her back her some Epson salts and a replacement cable for her iPad.   Upon your return, you would need to park at least a block away — even if there was a parking space available right in front of auntie’s house.   

Here’s one more:  You’re waiting for an eye doctor’s appointment in Newtonville and have parked at a one-hour meter.  After waiting a half hour, it becomes clear that the doctor is running late and maybe you ought to run out and feed the meter. 

You can’t. Once you’ve parked in a space for the maximum allowed time, you can’t feed the meter to add extra time.  You will need to move your vehicle to another block. (Actually under existing rules perhaps you weren’t supposed to do this either, but who doesn’t?)

 Here’s the city’s current overtime parking regulation (Chapter 19, Section 190)

“No person shall park a vehicle for a longer consecutive period than the limit specified and between the hours specified on any of the streets or parts of streets designated as parking meter zones in which parking meters and parking meter spaces are to be established pursuant to the traffic and parking regulations”.

…and here’s the new one (#38-18) which the Public Safety committee passed 6-2  and will go before the City Council on Monday.

“No person shall park a vehicle within a designated metered parking space or in a parking space within a time-restricted area for a longer consecutive period than the time limit specified or beyond the hours specified. Vehicles must be moved to a location beyond the nearest intersection or to a location outside an off-street municipal parking lot upon or before the expiration of the posted time limit, and may not return the same day.”

[Read more here, toward the very end of this very long agenda, including information about the rules in some neighboring communities.]

As I understand it, the city is looking at changing the current rules in order to improve turn over of parking spaces by making the rules clearer and enforcement manageable.

The goal is to make it easier for all of us to find a space when we need it to go shopping, meet a friend for coffee, stop at the post office, or visit an ATM.

Really, it’s a well-intended attempt to solve a genuine problem.

But in a city where the current transportation mix is still mostly car-dependent, I believe we need a more holistic approach to parking management – including perhaps congestion pricing – that will encourage turnover of the highly desirable parking spaces without preventing users from returning to the same destination on the same day







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